Professionals Scraping for Scrap as Economy Breeds Competition
John Scott has a problem and on June 5, he came to the city commission for help.
Whereas a year ago, he said, he was one of few out gathering metal to take to the recycling plant on bulk trash night, things have changed. In the past year, the number of recyclers has tripled or quadrupled and the competition is not only stiff, but has an unfair advantage; many of those scrappers operate outside of regulations that have boosted his overhead to $450 a week.. .
That wouldn’t be half bad but, he said, the competition has an unfair advantage; “I have to have a business license, articles of incorporation, I carry a million dollar liability policy to pick up construction debris, which is $240 down and $50 a month,” he said.
As a result, his income has dropped by 50 percent, even working from 6 a.m. until the street lights come one seven days a week.
“If I get to half a tank and haven’t put anything in my truck, I go home,” said the man whose business card introduces him as Scrapper John.
A third generation scrapper, Scott returned to the profession a year ago when his warehouse business went bust. He spent four hours last Wednesday driving through Boca Raton, Deerfield Beach and Pompano Beach, looking for things like discarded air conditioners that he could take to the metal recycling center, I Love Scrap, in Pompano Beach.
He’d burned through a quarter tank of gas. He was $20 in the hole. And even thought there wasn’t single item in the back of his truck, he was about to call it a day.
A year ago, he told city officials, his truck would have been piled high with household-has beens. With the economy bumping along the bottom, however, hoards of freelancers are competiing for the dead appliances and patio furniture that are his bread and butter. – competiing, he says, wiht an unfair advantage.
They operate out of cars and pick up trucks, while his truck is lettered with his business name.
They disturb the peace by running after 10 p.m., when much of the bulk trash is out, but hours before it is collected.
They pile scrap so high in trucks it is at risk of falling off.
“I have a business license. I am incorporated, and I have a million dollar liability policy,” he told the city commission. “I used to make $1,000 a week…It’s increasingly hard for me.”
Scott asked for enforcement of existing laws -- requiring a business license; a tarp to keep load secure and inside truck, and laws enforcing quiet at night.
Pete Sudler, chief of the BSO’s Deerfield Beach substation, said his office is aware of the issue. “Our Commercail Vehicle Enforcement deputy is charged with enforcing these laws. he spends a great deal of time on Powerline Road where most of the businesses are located,” Sudler said in an email. “Our Criminal Investigation Unit also conducts random inspections...to ensure they are following the elements of Florida State 812...:
“This is the first time hearing these concerns from someone in the scrap business,” Sudler continued. “We will certianly continue our efforts toward compliance and work with Mr. scott to addressthe issues he brought foreward.”
Scott took that as an encouraging sign.
“BSO is going to be able to make arrests of guys without driver license and guys out drinking all day—able to pull them over in a routine traffic stop and get these people off the road,” he said. “If these guys know that they are going to get pulled over and ticketed, they are not going to out.”